Does Hair Dye Damage Hair Follicles?

does hair dye damage hair follicles

Does Hair Dye Damage Hair Follicles

If you need to go from blonde to brunette, all you need to do whip out a bottle of permanent or semi-permanent hair dye and you can achieve your desired color. In fact, there is so much more you can do with hair dyes these days.

From Kim Kardashian’s platinum look to Nicki Minaj’s eccentric colors, you could light up your hair with just one visit to the salon.

While all that hair dye allows you to check out different versions of yourself, it also puts pressure on your scalp and that begs the question, does hair dye damage hair follicles?

In this article, I’m going to talk about what hair dye actually does to your hair and if you should be worried about your follicles.

Before I dive right into the answer, I would like to take you through the basics.

What are Hair Follicles?

Hair follicles are pores in the skin through which hair grows. They are tunnel-like passages made up of living cells at the root beneath the skin surface.

Attached to every follicle are sebaceous glands which produce sebum (oil) to lubricate the hair and the skin as it grows.

What Hair Dye Does To Your Hair

Hair dye contains several chemicals responsible for the change in color.  These chemicals are the reason behind the harsh smells you perceive when you open that bottle of hair dye.

But what really happens when you dye your hair? Which chemicals strip away your natural color and replace it with the desired color? And finally, do these chemicals damage your follicles?

Ammonia

To change your hair color, the hair dye needs to get inside your hair. Normally, this won’t be possible since your hair has a couple of barriers to protect itself from intruders.

Many hair dyes make use of ammonia to break through the hair cuticles and get into the hair shaft.

The cuticle protects the structure of the hair fiber. Just below are the pigments responsible for your natural hair color.

For your hair dye to set permanently, this barrier must be lifted. Luckily, ammonia doesn’t damage the cuticle. Instead, it lifts the cuticle allowing the molecule of the dye to set in.

By lifting, we mean it allows it to swell making way for new hair color.

Peroxide

Now that your cuticle is out of the way, you can now get rid of your natural color. Peroxide is the most popular activator for most hair color. It is used to strip away the natural hair color allowing for the hair dye molecules to set in properly.

The issue here is that you will have to use as much peroxide as you can to strip away a lot of your natural color.

Unfortunately, using so much bleach on your hair will in no way help your hair long term. It could alter your hair structure thereby leading to hair damage.

New Hair Color Sets In

With your hair cuticle lifted and your natural colors stripped away, the color pigment in the hair dye can now set in and bond to the hair cortex.

If you’re using permanent hair dye on your hair, it will set into the deepest layer of the hair which is why it doesn’t wash out. Instead, it grows out and fades over time.

Demi-permanent hair dyes, on the other hand, will only penetrate partially into the hair structure with more of the dye molecules remaining on the surface.

Semi-permanent colors don’t go inside the structure at all but remain on the surface. This is why they fade quickly.

Does Hair Dye Damage Hair Follicles

The answer is yes and no.

If you’re using your hair dye correctly or you’ve got a professional doing it for you and you’ve not experienced any chemical burns or reactions to the hair dye, then you’re the safe side.

That’s not to say that hair dye doesn’t damage your hair because it does. Saying that it damages your hair follicles is simply extreme.

What Damage Does Hair Dye Do Your Hair

Sure you would want to save money by using permanent hair dyes since they last longer. Or maybe you just like to wear that color for a longer period of time.

Whichever it is, you should know that permanent hair dyes do the most damage to your hair over time.

During the application process, your hair shaft is opened multiple times which could break the bonds that hold the structure of the hair together, thereby damaging the hair.

Another problem arises from the use of ammonia and peroxide. As said earlier, ammonia swells the cuticle to allow the peroxide to strip away your natural colors and for the hair dye color to set in.

Leaving peroxide on your hair could weaken the hair, leading to hair damage and breakage. Hair damage occurs when your hair cuticle is damaged by the peroxide. In severe cases, this could lead to hair loss.

Additionally, using permanent dyes could cause oxidative stress for your hair. Oxidative stress ages the hair causing hair loss.

How to Protect Your Hair

Get a Professional

While doing it yourself is the best way to learn a skill, become independent, and save money, it is not recommended when it comes to dying your hair.

A professional hairstylist will not only dye your hair correctly but help you watch out for any reactions and warn you about possible side effects.

Petroleum Jelly

For some people, dyes containing hydrogen peroxide could cause skin irritation. But it could cause a lot more than just skin irritation. Burning, redness, and swelling could arise especially in people with sensitive skin.

Before applying any hair dye, it is important that you do a patch test. Apply the dye on a non-sensitive area and watch out for any reactions.

If you notice itching, burning or irritation in that area, that means you are allergic to it. You would have to opt for another type of hair dye.

Additionally, you should protect your hairline with petroleum jelly and clean cotton in case of any unforeseen side effects.

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